The Gendered Widowhood Effect and Social Mortality Gap
preprintposted on 08.01.2020, 11:18 by Filip Dabergott
It is well documented that the disparities in mortality risk by socioeconomic status (SES) are greater among men than women. We also know that the excess mortality from widowhood (the widowhood effect) is greater among men. However, a different picture appears when examining these associations jointly. Based on Swedish register data, this study shows that widowhood weakens, and can even reverse, the gender differences in socioeconomic disparity in mortality. The overall findings also indicate that higher SES elevates the widowhood effect for men, but diminishes the effect for women and that the widowhood effect is stronger for women than men in the lowest SES categories. These results imply that men with higher SES are less able to manage life alone, perhaps due to previous household specialization. The disadvantage of widows in the lower SES-categories may reflect inequalities in the health care system and exposure to financial stress after spousal loss.